They Are Only Cute When You’re Young

by Dr. Todd Ellis Shatkin

We chuckle when we see young children with missing teeth, and think it’s cute. But tooth loss may occur past childhood for many reasons. Gum disease, periodontal problems, untreated cavities and tooth decay, auto accidents and falls are a few reasons.

While protecting teeth from cavities and gum disease is fairly straightforward with proper oral hygiene, protecting the mouth from injury isn’t always as easy. In fact, most tooth loss occurs as a result of accidents. So wearing protective mouth guards while participating in sports, being a safe and attentive driver, and avoiding physical altercations is important.

Missing teeth when you’re an adult can be embarrassing. It is often associated with old age and can make you look older than you are. Missing teeth can also be detrimental to long term oral and medical health. Gaps where teeth are missing affect the way the jaw closes, and remaining teeth can begin to tilt and drift into the gaps. Food can become trapped here, causing decay and gum disease. Opposing teeth can drift into the open space and cause the opposing jaw-line to have bite relationship problems. This can lead to severe pain in the jaw or TMJ.

When a tooth is lost the supporting jaw bone begins to dissolve.  This is called resorption. The longer a tooth is missing, the greater the bone loss. Over time, resorption of the jawbone affects a person’s quality of life, and it becomes more difficult to eat and chew food. Studies have shown that 29 percent of denture wearers eat only soft or mashed foods and 50 percent avoid many foods altogether.  Over time, more and more of the jaw bone disintegrates until it becomes very difficult to place any dental restoration.

All of this makes it important for a tooth to be replaced as soon as it is lost, and today’s mini dental implant technology makes that possible. Mini-implants can be used for anything from replacing a single tooth, multiple teeth, or even a full set during one or two short visits. The procedure is usually simple and non-surgical. Following x-rays and impressions the mini implants can be placed and crowns cemented, often during the same visit. Patients leave with a full set of teeth in about three hours. Even better, mini-implants cost about one-half what standard larger implants cost. To learn more visit, or call 716-839-1700 or 1-800-GR8-LOOK.

About the author:

Dr. Todd Ellis Shatkin developed and patented the technique to place and cement mini implants in one visit, and was the first dentist in WNY to use this technology. He is a member of American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and President of the International Academy of Mini Dental Implants at the Aesthetic Associates Centre. Dr. Shatkin has trained over 8,000 dentists world-wide, and placed over 10,000 mini implants with better than a 95% success rate. He was also one of the first dentists in the region to provide Porcelain Veneers bringing state of the art cosmetic